Essex-born chef Phil Thompson comes from a family of cooks – his mother, sister and uncle all being in the trade. “My uncle was a caterer and I used to do weekends with him and wash his pots. Slowly but surely, he got me picking lettuce and showed me how to make Marie Rose sauce and Yorkshire puddings. I got more and more involved and caught the bug for it. I went to college and trained as a chef – they all told me not to, but I did it. I wish I’d listened to them now,” he chuckles.
He kicked off his professional career in London at The Lanesborough Hotel, where work experience turned into a paid job under executive chef Paul Gayler. “Paul has had a real impact on my career,” says Phil. “It was like a family at the Lanesborough – which really helped me as a sixteen year old rookie. I don’t think I would have survived in a harder kitchen initially, but by the time I was done there, I felt ready to face a tougher one.”
His next role took him to Orrery in Marylebone High Street, where a certain young Chris Galvin was building a name for himself. “It was exciting, there was a big buzz and all the chefs were really good. Many who left that kitchen have gone on to achieve Michelin stars in their own right.”And Thompson is one such chef, earning a star in 2010 at Auberge du Lac, where he cooked his way up to executive chef before opening his first solo venture, Thompson’s at Darcy’s in St Albans in November 2013.